AUTUMN

THE PHOTOGRAPHERS CHALLENGE - finding beauty

It's November and the colour palate of the landscape in southern Ontario has shifted. The vibrant reds and yellows of autumn leaves have been replaced by muted hues of ochre, tan and grey. These are the colours of tall dried grasses, the bare bark limbs of the deciduous trees and heavy overcast skies. It's a big shift and frankly a bit of a let down. 

Add to this cold and damp weather and shorter daylight hours and it is easy to see why finding beauty out of doors in November around here is a bit more challenging.

Instinctively I find myself drawn to doing one of three things; cozying up inside with a cup of tea looking at photos from warmer times, dreaming of making sparkly holiday images or fantasizing about escaping to some place more temperate to make new images. 

But I like to believe that there is beauty even in the most unlikely of landscapes, so the truth is I must not be looking hard enough for it.

A few morning ago as I passed a fallow field, I did just that.  I looked harder.  And indeed, I think I found some in the muted, late november, cold and damp southern Ontario landscape.

Ironically in the time it has taken me to process the image for this post, mother nature has decided to change the colour of her wardrobe yet again.  This morning we woke up to discover she is wearing a crisp white blanket.  It's her prerogative I suppose.

How do you manage when beauty seems hard to find?

 

 

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FINDING ADVENTURE - say yes first

I finally managed to get my family to join me on a hike to Webster's Falls a few weeks ago.  I had been telling my boys how much they would love this hike for a month.  "The trail winds along a creek!  At times it is high up on the edge of the valley and at other times so low and close to the water that you have to hold onto tree branches so you don't fall in the fast moving water."  This hike had all the elements I knew my boys would love - nature mixed with a healthy dose of adventure.  

Still my request was met with some pretty strong resistance.  Our youngest (and for the moment still the smallest amongst us) was not looking forward to the sore legs that follow after a long walk with taller people.  And my oldest who has an aversion to mud (which is pretty much a staple on the trails in Ontario in the fall) saw no real need to go and get his hikers dirty.  In the end the adults pulled rank and veto voted the outing into action.  

Sadly not long after we we set off, the boys concerns were quickly manifested. At our first brief rest stop our youngest complained of aching calve muscles and my oldest scrunched his nose with dismay at the 2 inch mud cake clinging to the bottom of his boots.  We pressed on, down the steep embankment to the creek's edge, past the spot where the creek is joined by another tributary, across the rocks sitting just above the large boot sucking mud patch, through the large moss covered, man-sized boulders and finally as close to the base of  Webster's Falls as the heavy spray would allow.

The noise from the rush of the water plummeting over the edge of the 22 meter high 24 meter wide ridge into the valley made it difficult for me to hear what the boys said as they scrambled closer to see this amazing site, but the look on their faces told me they were not sorry they came.

My husband has a friend and mentor who has always maintained that when opportunities arise, you say YES.  Say yes FIRST, knowing you can always say no later.  Opportunities don't always come around twice.  I'm not sure this is an approach that comes naturally but I've always hoped my boys would embrace this approach to life.

As we turned to start our walk back to the trail head, my youngest bounded up behind me and threw his arms around my waist.  "That was awesome. I'm glad we did it." he said.  I just smiled.

 

This post is dedicated to our dear friends who have said YES to a very big opportunity!   They have taken their family of five on the road for a year of learning and adventure.  We will miss the Gilberts here at home but we look forward to following your travels abroad.  You inspire us!

 

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MOUNTAIN TOP REFLECTIONS - finding more than just a place to take a photo

We had to climb a good distance to get to the top of Deer Park Heights from where we were dropped off.  It was quite steep.  So steep that I almost stepped into this pond as I came over the rise.  Very convenient as I needed to catch my breath anyhow.  Catch my breath and take a moment to reflect.

Some experiences change you.  Call them pivot points, critical milestones or defining moments - you know the ones.  They are the enlightening experiences big or small that reshape not only where you are headed but who you are at a core level.  Times that move us to more closely align our authentic selves and core values with our true calling.

My most recent defining moment happened right there, in Deer Park Heights, while attending Trey Ratcliff's New Zealand Photo Adventure.  It was a big moment.  The whole adventure in fact was big!  You can see how profoundly I was impacted in the clip they recorded of me for this video (it's late in the reel but watch the whole thing - you'll get to see all the great folks I met.)  I am nearly speechless, barely coherent.  

A Stuck In Customs Video. More info at http://store.stuckincustoms.com/workshops

Can you name 5 pivotal moments in your life so far?  Perhaps a critical milestone is on your horizon.  Maybe it will happen today!  Have a good one my friends.

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ONE IN ONE HUNDRED - the photographers learning curve

I took some advice and purchased a new 85 mm lens a few months ago.  I am a landscape photographer for the most part, but occasionally I find myself dabbling in portrait work. I had high hopes of making dreamy images with this new lens. The man at the camera store assured me as I paid for the lens that I would not regret the purchase. But I have to admit - I am suffering some buyers remorse - just a little bit.

Perhaps because despite practicing with it, I just can't seem to make those beautiful images I see in my mind. I'm back to getting one keeper out of 200-300 shots taken. Ugh. It's so disheartening and now I'm in this terrible self fulfilling cycle - I don't get good shots with the darn lens, so I don't use it, so I don't get better - you know how it goes.

The easy solution would be to just sell it and use the money to buy number two on the lens list but I don't give up easily.  So the other day I decided I would try a new approach with this elusively fabulous lens and use it only when the pressure is off - when I can just play.  And bam. I got one. One. Out of one hundred. Just enough of an improvement to convince me I can't give up yet.

Have you got a stick with it story? I'd love to hear it!  I could use some inspiration.  Or maybe you've already been down this path with an 85mm and you could share the secrets to unlocking its potential. 

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